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[RC] It's Day 3 of Al Andalus already! - Merri Melde

Monday March 30 2009

Jerez - El Rocio - Sevilla

Already it's Day 3 of the 4th annual Tierras de-Al Andalus, the 8-day endurance riding test across Andalucia in southern Spain, roughly 60 kilometers a day, roughly 45 starters every day.

Riders from Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, and Argentina have been along the beaches, through the vineyards and olive and orange groves, through the ancient Roman city of Italica. There are riders of all ages, old to young (I think the youngest is 14) and in between. We've had three rousing galloping finishes, one on the beach along the Guadaliquivir River, one at the foot of the shrine of Our Lady of the Rocio, and one beside the birthplace of Trajan and Adriano, at the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Italica near Sevilla.

There are more riders this year, and there are 21 attempting to ride their one horse all 8 days. Some are here to win, some are here to complete every day, some are here just to fulfill a dream they have had of riding across Andalucia. Some are returning for the 3rd year.

The days are non-stop, from 7 in the morning (not QUITE so early this year so far!) to at least 9:30 PM with the great meals and finally the ride meetings, and if you still have the desire (or strength), somewhere there's a party to escort you to dawn.

Our path leads us toward the mountains - "Take it slowly," says singer/actor/organizor Jose Manuel Soto, and head veterinarian Paco Castejon, "because the last 2 days are the hardest."

More of Andalucia to come...

Al Andalus coverage